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  • International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 2010

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on February 2nd, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  Some pressure at the highest levels of government regarding the Child Abductions case.  Good news indeed.  Have a read of a number of press materials below.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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    Japan urged to resolve child custody disputes
    (Mainichi Japan) January 30, 2010, Courtesy of AS

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20100130p2g00m0dm036000c.html

    TOKYO (AP) — Ambassadors from the U.S. and seven other countries on Saturday urged Tokyo to resolve legal custody issues that keep foreign parents from visiting their children in Japan.

    Under Japanese law, a single parent gains full custody of children in divorce cases, and it is usually the mother. This leaves many fathers cut off from their children until they are grown.

    In addition, Japan has not signed on to a global treaty on child abduction. So when international marriages go sour, Japanese mothers can bring their children home and refuse any contact with foreign ex-husbands, regardless of custody rulings in other countries.

    The long-standing issue gained increased attention last year, when American Christopher Savoie was arrested in Japan after his Japanese ex-wife accused him of taking their two children as they went to school. Amid accusations of kidnapping from both sides, Savoie was eventually released and allowed to leave the country, on condition he leave his children behind.

    On Saturday, U.S. Ambassador John Roos, together with ambassadors and envoys from Australia, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and Spain met with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada to discuss the issue.

    They emphasized the welfare of children involved in such disputes, saying they should have access to both parents, said a joint statement issued after the meeting. The ambassadors urged Japan to sign the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which all eight countries have done.

    “We also urged Japan to identify and implement interim measures to enable parents who are separated from their children to maintain contact with them and ensure visitation rights, and to establish a framework for resolution of current child abduction cases,” the statement said.

    Japan’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying Okada explained that Tokyo recognized the importance of the issue and was working toward a resolution.

    Tokyo has argued in the past that signing the convention could endanger Japanese women and their children who have fled from abusive foreign husbands.
    ENDS

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    From PW:

    Hi Debito, I hope you’re doing well. Not sure if you heard. 8 embassies served a demarche on the MOFA this past Saturday regarding Child Abductions.

    Note the last sentence in this report about award the child to the Japanese grandparents.

    Eight countries press Japan on parental abductions
    (AFP) – Saturday January 30, 2010

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h9hKCzas2eQXSES98OCG-gOWVPoQ?index=0

    TOKYO — Envoys of eight countries met the Japanese foreign minister Saturday to press the government to sign a treaty to prevent international parental child abductions.

    Activists say that thousands of foreign parents have lost access to children in Japan, where the courts virtually never award child custody to a divorced foreign parent.

    Japan is the only nation among the Group of Seven industrialised nations that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention that requires countries to return a child wrongfully kept there to their country of habitual residence.

    In the latest move to urge Tokyo to sign the convention, envoys from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the United States expressed their concerns to Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada.

    The ambassadors visited the foreign ministry to “submit our concerns over the increase of international parental abduction cases involving Japan and affecting our nationals,” they said in a joint statement.

    “Currently the left-behind parents of children abducted to or from Japan have little hope of having their children returned,” said the statement.

    Such parents “encounter great difficulties in obtaining access to their children and exercising their parental rights and responsibilities,” it said.

    “This is a very serious issue, to which we have to find a solution,” said Okada as he received the delegation including French ambassador Philippe Faure and US envoy John Roos.

    “This comes from the different legal systems between Japan and the countries of North America and Europe,” Okada said.

    The envoys’ visit to Okada followed their meeting with Justice Minister Keiko Chiba in October, as they hope Japan’s new centre-left government, which ended a half-century of conservative rule in September, will review the issue.

    Activist groups estimate that over the years up to 10,000 dual-citizenship children in Japan have been prevented from seeing a foreign parent.

    The United States has said it has listed cases of more than 100 children abducted by a parent from the United States and taken to Japan.

    Japanese courts usually award child custody in divorce cases to just one parent, usually the mother, rather than reaching joint custody agreements with parental visitation rights.

    Japanese courts also habitually side with the Japanese parent in an international custody dispute — sometimes even awarding a child’s Japanese grandparents custody rights over a foreign parent.

    //////////////////////////////////////////

    TBS broadcast:
    http://news.tbs.co.jp/20100130/newseye/tbs_newseye4344136.html

    子供連れ去り対処、8大使が要望

    国際離婚に伴う子供の連れ去りに対処するハーグ条約をめぐり、アメリカ、フランスなど8か国の大使らが、そろって岡田外務大臣のもとを訪れ、日本も条約に加盟するよう要望しました。

    ハーグ条約は、国際結婚したカップルが離婚した際に、片方の親が子供を自分の母国に一方的に連れ帰るなどの事例に対処するもので、政府を通じて子供の返還や面会の請求が出来る仕組みになっています。

    この条約には現在、欧米などおよそ80か国が加盟していますが、親権に対する考え方の違いなどから日本は加盟していません。このため、日本人が当事者となるトラブルが相次いでいるとして、アメリカやイギリス、フランスなど8か国の大使らが岡田外務大臣に面会し、条約に加盟するよう要望しました。

    岡田大臣は、「非常に深刻な問題だ」とする一方、「欧米と日本での法制度の違いにも起因している問題だ」と述べ、慎重な姿勢を示しました。(30日17:39)

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    Kyodo News about Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell to raise the issue of child abductions with his counterparts today.

    国際親権問題で日本に懸念伝達へ 米国務次官補
    2010/01/30 09:11 【共同通信】
    http://www.47news.jp/CN/201001/CN2010013001000089.html
    【ワシントン共同】キャンベル米国務次官補は29日、国際結婚が破綻するなどして子どもを日本人の元配偶者に「拉致」され、親権を侵害されたと訴える米国人の男女約30人とワシントンで面会した。次官補は面会後「彼らの精神的苦痛をどう軽減できるか日本側と話し合う」と述べ、2月1日からの訪日で外務省などに懸念を伝える考えを示した。

    面会は非公開で、国務省からジェイコブズ次官補(領事担当)も参加。出席者によると、国務省側は今月、日本に担当者を派遣し、日米間で意見交換を続けていると説明したという。

    面会を終えたキャンベル氏は、居どころ不明や別れた相手に拒否されてわが子に会えない事態を「悲劇だ」とし、子どもの連れ去りに対処する「ハーグ条約」への日本の加盟や個別のケースの解決を親たちは望んでいると説明。

    福岡県で昨年9月、日本人の元妻が米国から連れ帰った子ども2人を取り戻そうとして未成年者略取容疑で逮捕され、その後起訴猶予となった日米二重国籍の男性(39)も参加した。

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    Press release from the US embassy about an earlier meeting with MOFA renewing request to sign the Hague and resolve existing cases.

    PRESS RELEASE
    U.S. Renews Call for Japan to Accede to Hague Convention Concerning International Child Abduction
    January 22, 2010

    http://tokyo.usembassy.gov/e/p/tp-20100122-72.html

    Officials from the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. State Department met today in Tokyo with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and once again called for Japan to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

    The meeting was held in the context of a working group established to address issues related to cross-border child custody issues, including the removal of American children from the United States to Japan without the prior consent or knowledge of American parents and the inability of American parents to have any meaningful access to their abducted children in Japan. More than 75 American parents and their children are victims of these situations in Japan. Many citizens of other countries are also affected.

    The U.S. government places the highest priority on the welfare of children who are victims of international parental child abduction and strongly believes that children should grow up with access to both parents even after the collapse of a marriage.

    The U.S. government hopes that that the working group will provide a means to improve American parents’ access to and visitation with their children; facilitate visits with children by U.S. consular officers; and explore ways to resolve current child abduction cases. While renewing its call for Japan to accede to the Hague Convention, the U.S. government looks forward to working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the working group on these important matters. The U.S. government will also continue working with other like-minded countries that have been affected by this problem in Japan.

    For reference:
    Link to the latest US Embassy online magazine that is devoted entirely to the child abduction issue:

    Winter 2010 “American View”
    Joint Press Statement Following the Symposium on International Parental Child Abduction (Canada, France, UK, United States) – Tokyo, May 21, 2009

    /////////////////////////////////////

    FYI the embassy’s press release:

    PRESS RELEASE
    Joint Press Statement (International Child Abduction – Eight Nations)
    By the Ambassadors of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States
    Tokyo, Japan, January 30, 2010

    http://tokyo.usembassy.gov/e/p/tp-20100130-74.html

    We, the Ambassadors to Japan of Australia, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, the Charges d’Affaires a.i. of Canada and Spain and the Deputy Head of Mission of Italy, called on Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs today to submit our concerns over the increase of international parental abduction cases involving Japan and affecting our nationals, and to urge Japan to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“the Convention”).

    The Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention across international borders, which can be a tragedy for all concerned. The Convention further establishes procedures to ensure the prompt return of children to the State of their habitual residence when wrongfully removed or retained. It also secures protection for rights of access to both parents to their children. To date, over 80 countries have acceded to the Convention, including the eight countries which jointly carried out today’s demarche.

    Japan is the only G-7 nation that has not signed the Convention. Currently the left-behind parents of children abducted to or from Japan have little hope of having their children returned and encounter great difficulties in obtaining access to their children and exercising their parental rights and responsibilities.

    In our meeting with Japan’s Foreign Minister Okada, we reiterated that we place the highest priority on the welfare of children who have been the victims of international parental child abduction, and stressed that the children should grow up with access to both parents. We signalled our encouragement at recent positive initiatives by the Government of Japan, such as the establishment of the Division for Issues Related to Child Custody within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the same time repeating calls for Japan to accede to the Convention, which would also benefit left-behind parents of Japanese origin. We also urged Japan to identify and implement interim measures to enable parents who are separated from their children to maintain contact with them and ensure visitation rights, and to establish a framework for resolution of current child abduction cases.

    Japan is an important friend and partner for each of our countries, and we share many values. We believe this can and should serve as the basis for developing solutions now to all cases of parental child abduction in Japan. In common with our demarche to Justice Minister Chiba on October 16, 2009, we extended an offer to Foreign Minister Okada to continue to work closely and in a positive manner with the Japanese government on this critical issue.

    ENDS

    5 Responses to “International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 2010”

    1. Gilesdesign Says:

      Long overdue.
      The Japanese old argument of protecting Japanese women from abusive foreign husbands is indicative of a racist institution that once again regards all foreigners as the dangerous villains and all Japanese as innocent victims. It is no longer acceptable for Japan to impose its own racist and nationalist protectionism ideals on the international community especially when it infringes on the welfare of children and the rights of parents.

    2. Karl Says:

      I know I’m beating a dead horse with this but

      “…endanger Japanese women and their children who have fled from abusive foreign husbands.”

      Does Japan not already have laws that forbid domestic violence? Can’t we legislate custody issues with custody laws while legislating domestic violence issues with domestic violence laws?

      The only thing more infuriating than using this lame excuse to prevent a change in custody laws is the implication that wives divorce and refuse to allow visitation because most (in this case foreign) men abuse their spouses and children.

    3. DS Says:

      I have heard the “protect Japan’s helpless women” shibboleth many times. I guess nobody is worried about the reverse case- Japanese men who marry foreign women. After all, the J-man F-woman marriage far exceeds the J-woman F-man in terms of numbers.

      I guess those helpless Japanese men who were trapped into marriage by cunning foreign harlots need some protecting too…

    4. IGOTCHU Says:

      Karl, I think you mentioned a very good point that needs to be discussed as well. Their courts should not be allowed to abuse Domestic Violence Laws in order to prevent foreign parents from maintaining contact with their children. Its basically government sanctioned kidnapping.

    5. debito Says:

      Pertinent article courtesy of JW:

      http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2010/02/japan-urged-to-sign-international-child.php

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